The Unrest of Finns Erupts in Mass Demonstrations This Week

A demonstrator giving the finger against the government during the labour protest at the Railway Square in Helsinki on Friday September 18 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

A demonstrator giving the finger against the government during the labour protest at the Railway Square in Helsinki on Friday September 18 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

This week will see a wave of protests in Helsinki, relating to social inequality, economic setbacks, and austerity. While they all differ slightly, the overall message hopes for a reduction in inequality, whether it be related to gender, social status, or choice of occupation.

Tuesday 8th of March is the International Women’s Day. Women’s day is a day that aims to highlight a common struggle for equality. It endeavours to highlight racism, misogyny, and transphobia as a increasing problem in public spaces. Violence and hate towards these groups is what the protest is challenging, particularly relating to the recent uses of women as as a justification for racism (sending back male immigrants). ‘Otetaan yö takaisin’ (Lets take the night back) starts at 19:15 at Narinkkatori, which includes a march, speeches, and music. The demonstration is organized by Astra, Naisasialiitto Unioni, Tulva and FemF, and it is possible to register your organisation or group  to participate in the demonstration.

For further information, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/1014737931924600/

On Wednesday, 9th March , there will be a protest against the proposal by the Finnish government, planning to make cuts to student support, totaling 150 million euros.  This is one-fifth of the entire budget for financial aid for students in higher education, and will be decided upon in spring. The student welfare system is being challenged to revert to a prior model, which decreases the amount of welfare given by the state per month, but increases the amount that a student can loan, hereby increasing the amount of debt that a student will carry at the end of their studies.

The protest will begin at 13.00 at Senaatintori, where at 13:30 the group will march to Kansalaistori.
Find more information at: https://www.facebook.com/events/983431838405738/

In addition, on the 9th of Match Suomen luonnonsuojelulitto (The Finnish Association for Nature Conservation (FANC)) and Greenpeace Suomi are organising a protest against National Forestry Law reform, which could allow the forests to be sold as property to foreign companies. The protest will take part in Kansalalaistori (Citizens’ Square) at 16:30, with a procession around the parliament and a 17:30 return to Citizens’ Square. Other participating associations include: Suomen Latu, Luonto-Liitto (Nature League), Natur och Miljö (Nature and Environment) & Birdlife.

More information can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/1676010039339871/ and http://www.sll.fi/uusimaa/tapahtumat/kaikille-avoin-kohtuusklubi-ke-9-9-2015-klo-18-20

Friday 11th of March sees the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK) support a protest to raise attention towards potential agricultural measures that hope to mitigate the economic crisis the union and its members are facing. MTK Uusimaa is the oldest Finnish Farmers Association, founded in 1917 and one of the fourteen MTK provincial producers’ union. MTK is an organisation and interest group representing farmers, forest owners and rural entrepreneurs, with over 400,000 members in local agricultural producers’ organisations and regional forest management associations.

Agricultural holdings are the weakest in decades, and revenue has fallen by an average of more than half, with ‘last year being the worst in the history of many farms’, Juha Marttila, the Chairman of the MTK board stated. Following the collapse of exports to Russia, the EU’s agricultural policy has changed, and farmers feel that decision-makers at that level lacks the skills or ability to comprehend the position of agriculture. The market has fallen sharply, the total impact estimated at 250-300 million euros. Farm subsidies were cut last year by more than 70 million euros, and payments were suspended.
For more information, visit https://www.mtk.fi/ajankohtaista/uutiset/uutiset_2016/fi_FI/traktorimarssi/, or contact Juha Marttila, President, 050 341 3167 and Antti Sahi, 0400 804 496.

On the 12th of March there will be a mass demonstration against the politics of austerity. The protest is principally organised by Joukkovoima, a grassroots movement taking action to highlight alternatives to austerity. The protest is resisting cuts to the basic prerequisites to welfare and employee rights, and well as cuts to development aid, and poor response to the refugee crisis.

Joukkavoima’s demands are:
1. An end to the politics of austerity in Finland, Europe, and everywhere in the world
2. Sufficient income for everyone
3. Basic human rights for everyone

At 14:00 2:00 pm the protest will assemble at Senaatintori, which will march to Hakaniemi, met by music and speeches.
Details can be found at http://joukkovoima.com/index.php?id=english